ACA National Report 2020

29 May 2020

Through the challenges of 2019–2020, the ACA has worked tirelessly to provide up-to-date advice, a jampacked business toolbox of resources, continued advocacy, IR representation at the FWC, a dynamic and relevant online events program, and an engaging platform to share knowledge, experience and a sense of community. Here’s a recap.

The challenges of 2020

The dawn of 2020 saw the nation hit with natural disasters that called for extreme measures and support. The ACA developed a dedicated bushfire response repository of content to help.

When COVID-19 arrived a few weeks later, it was clear that the health and economic effects were going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before. In response, the ACA reached out to architectural practices through Pulse Check Surveys to find out how the ACA could assist through these challenging times. It helped identify what our profession was looking for – advice, timely information, advocacy, and a platform to share knowledge and experience. We will follow through on the first two surveys with our Pulse Check Survey 3 next week. Please continue to fill in our surveys to help us build meaningful longitudinal knowledge and to give appropriate support to our members.

COVID-19 and Your Practice on our website is the go-to place for responsive content around employment issues, practice management, leadership, mental wellbeing, government stimulus and support, working remotely and legal matters to assist during this crisis. It’s also a place where we are sharing strategies from other practices and leaders.

Our Business Toolbox now includes information on Force Majeure during pandemics, a Resource Sharing System to assist members with employment needs, an updated Time Cost Calculator, and much-needed resources to help businesses during the crisis. Business Alerts continue to be a valuable way to provide our members with timely state and federal government information.

From your feedback, CPD and Online Events are still in demand. Many of you feel that this is a time to focus on upskilling, education and training, and shifting from working ‘in your business’ to ‘on your business’. The ACA has converted face-to-face events into webinars and will continue to be responsive to emerging topics.

In the meantime, the Industrial Relations Committee from the ACA – VIC/TAS branch has been negotiating changes with the Fair Work Commission (FWC) in the 2014 and 2018 award reviews. The decisions of both these award reviews have now been determined and we are pleased to announce the release of the Architects Award 2020, which has notable changes to six clauses.

The ACA is also proud to support the new research project Architectural Work Cultures: professional identity, education and wellbeing, led by Professor Naomi Stead of Monash University. This project has secured an Australian Research Council (ARC) Linkage grant to examine the work and study cultures of architecture in Australia, in relation to professional identity and its impact on wellbeing, with a whole-of-career scope spanning education to retirement. The ACA’s support of this important piece of work will be through in-kind contributions such as raising awareness, promotion via media channels, and representation on an advisory/steering committee to name a few.

What a year 2019 was…

As we headed towards the end of 2019, the ACA team was busy coordinating a program of activities to support our member practices with new and improved initiatives, advocacy efforts at a State and Federal government level, vibrant Branch events, the presentation of a consistent national program offering, and the use of ACA as a platform for sharing our experience and expertise. Here are some of the highlights:

Business of Small Practice

In continuing to create consistency across national offerings, the ACA is delighted to share the success of the Business of Small Practice (BoSP) forum series, which was initiated by the ACA – WA committee; bringing together architects to share insights about how they are dealing with running their practices from money matters to HR issues and organisational structures. BoSP was piloted in South Australia in October with a resounding reception from attendees, and the ACA is now rolling this series out nationally, under the leadership of the ACA – WA Branch.

Business of Architecture and Design conference

In a first for the ACA, our partnership with Niche Media saw us deliver a one-day national conference on the Business of Architecture and Design in November. Delegates were treated to outstanding speakers delivering thought-provoking sessions on a range of topics that challenged practices to think about today and into the future, including an ACA panel session that tackled the triple bottom line and how practices can and should balance people, planet and profits in their business models.

Client Choice Awards

In another first, the ACA established a partnership with beaton research group to co-promote the Best Architecture Firm award. These awards solely measure the performance of architectural businesses through the eyes of their clients, giving practices of all sizes the opportunity to receive unfettered feedback from clients, highlighting the positives and areas of improvement. The ACA was delighted to announce Sydney member ArtMade as the finalist of the Best Architectural Firm.

Branch updates

For specific detail on the activities of each branch, see the WA Branch Update, the VIC/TAS Branch Update, the SA Branch Update, the QLD/NT Branch Update and the NSW/ACT Branch Update.

Next steps

We will continue to lead the way in providing essential tools and resources for member practices, along with a vital and engaged editorial program. All this work is supported by the ACA’s elected representatives, staff, members and partners.

We would like to particularly acknowledge the excellent ongoing support of our National Principal Partners – Planned Cover, Armstrong Flooring, and Deltek – and we welcome informed Lawyers and a special contribution by NATSPEC in assisting us to continue our work.

As always, we are keen to hear your thoughts, plans and ideas for the ACA. Our mission is to remain focused on membership value through good times and pandemics, to advocate strongly for the profession, and to provide robust, up-to-date and useful resources that allow you to focus on the Business of Architecture.

ACA members are the lifeblood to our association’s sustainability. On behalf of the ACA, we want to thank you for your continued help and engagement in advancing and supporting the wider profession.

National President John Held and CEO Angelina Pillai